FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Efrat Stein, (312) 747-9805
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin released a landmark report today that calls on the nation to make
the next generation tobacco-free. The report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, shows
that nationwide declines in the use of tobacco by youth and young adults have slowed for cigarette smoking and
stalled for smokeless tobacco use after years of steady progress.
Locally, Respiratory Health Association in partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health has worked
closely with other community partners to implement model strategies, as well as a hard-hitting media campaign
and school-based programs through the Chicago Tobacco Prevention Project. Examples of best-practice
policies include City Colleges of Chicago’s adoption of a tobacco-free campus policy at all of its locations (which
took effect earlier this month) and Cook County’s recent move to close a loophole that had exempted noncigarette
tobacco products from certain taxes.
“The tobacco industry spends more than a million dollars an hour to market their deadly products,” said Joel
Africk, president and chief executive officer of Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. “Our kids
deserve to be protected by smoke-free and tobacco-free campus policies, high tobacco prices and sustained
community-wide efforts to counter industry influences.”
“We know that the more young people are exposed to cigarette advertising and promotional activities, the more
likely they are to smoke. And we know that the younger kids are when they first try tobacco, the more likely they
are to get addicted,” said Dr. Bechara Choucair, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “We
are committed to reducing Chicago’s youth smoking rate as part of Healthy Chicago, our citywide plan to make
Chicago the healthiest city in the nation.”
As part of its targeted efforts to prevent youth smoking and tobacco use, the Chicago Tobacco Prevention
Project has implemented Operation Storefront, a curriculum that has been delivered in neighborhoods across
the city to empower youth to understand how tobacco products are marketed to them.
Illinois currently spends $9.5 million on tobacco prevention programs, which equates to just 6.1 percent of the
amount recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every day, more than 1,200 people in
the U.S. die due to smoking. For each of those deaths, at least two youth become regular smokers each day. At
least 90 percent of those replacement smokers smoke their first cigarette before they turn 18.
“The report highlights why we must focus resources to support policies and local programs that prevent young
people from ever starting to use tobacco products,” said U.S. Assistant Surgeon General James Galloway, MD,
FACP, FACC, FAHA. “Only with comprehensive efforts will we achieve the goal of making the next generation
About the Chicago Tobacco Prevention Project: In partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago is leading the Chicago Tobacco Prevention Project. Funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control, the comprehensive program includes hard-hitting media, outreach to vulnerable population groups, and policy efforts that reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. To learn more, visit www.lungchicago.org/ctpp.